About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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What It’s REALLY Like to Travel While Gay

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WARNING: This post contains graphic language that some may find offensive or triggering. If that’s you, please do NOT continue. 

There are places in this world I’ll never visit. Not because I don’t want to see them. But because they don’t want to see me.

Aside from political or economic strife, the entire globe is available to you if you’re a straight, white, cis man. But being a gay traveler, it isn’t possible.

travel while gay

I know I’m not wanted everywhere in this world. And I won’t go to those places. There’s a reason why

In fact, I’m used to watching my back when I visit different neighborhoods in my own town. I know that stopping at the wrong gas station can get me killed. Or that holding a partner’s hand in some countries can get me thrown in jail for obscenity, or executed.

There are a few things I always think about before I decide to take a trip. As a gay traveler, my biggest goal is to make it back home.

Why is it like this?

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The Best 2X Card for Non-Bonus Spending Now Has a 10,000 Point Welcome Offer

To start, the Blue Business Plus Amex is a small business card. But Amex is known to be generous with small business card approvals, so long as you have a for-profit venture, or are aiming to make a profit.

This card got instant “workhorse” classification. And it’s been a stalwart companion in my wallet since the day I got it.

amex blue business plus 10,000

MVP status, this one

When it launched in Summer 2017, there was a brief welcome offer for 20,000 Amex Membership Rewards points. But when that faded, it went to nothing.

Now a welcome offer of 10,000 Amex Membership Rewards points is available. But I think this card is good enough to get even without a bonus!

About the Blue Business Plus Amex Read More

Plastiq for Mortgage Payments Is Dead, Mostly 😿

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Thanks to readers Frank, Amar, and Ken for sharing experiences with their Citi AT&T Access More cards only earning 1X points for mortgage payments via Plastiq this month.

My statement just closed, too. And I can confirm: I only got 1X for last month’s mortgage payment. 😿

plastiq mortgage payments

Boo hiss! What’ll we do about you, Citi?

As of now, you can only use MasterCard and Discover cards to make mortgage payments through Plastiq. But you can still use any credit card to make rent or HOA payments.

So are there any good options left for paying mortgages through Plastiq? Or is it just… dead? 

What could be worth it for Plastiq mortgage payments?

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This Thursday 3/15: Join Us at the Frequent Flyer Meetup in Dallas!

It’s almost here!

In 3 days, this Thursday, 3/15 @ 6pm, please join 14 of us at the Out for Miles – Dallas points & miles/frequent flyer meetup!

So far, there are 54 peeps in the Meetup group. And 14 RSVP’d to the event this week! So it should be a nice crowd.

Grab a beer at this big yet cozy brewery in the Dallas Design District

I went to the venue last week to try a craft brew. And it was delish! The folks there are so welcoming. It should be a fun time to connect and mingle.

Here are the details.

Feel free to add your attendance via the links above. Or simply show up!

This place doesn’t serve food, but they don’t mind if you bring your own or have something delivered. I’ll try to have snacks brought in. There are also plenty of restaurants within a 5-minute drive.

See you in a few days!

What’s the Break Even Point for Chase Sapphire Cards?

How much do you have to spend each year for a Chase Sapphire annual fee to be worth it? The answer depends on:

  • Whether you spend in the bonus categories often
  • How much you value Chase Ultimate Rewards points
chase sapphire annual fee

It depends on your spending habits, but let’s take a looky-loo

I’ll break down spending in 3 scenarios:

  • Half bonus/half non-bonus spending with points worth their base rate for each card
  • Half bonus/half non-bonus spending with points worth 2 cents each
  • All bonus spending with points worth 2 cents each

Boom!

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred

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Targeted: Get a $50 Gift Card for Letting Someone Walk Your Dog

Saw this offer pop up today on my Drop app. You can get 50,000 Drop points for signing up for Wag and scheduling a free dog walk (20 or 30 minutes).

drop wag promotion

$50 for treating your dog to a free walk

You have to activate the offer. Then sign up for Wag through the Drop app. Once the walk is done, you’ll get 50,000 Drop points in your account, which is enough for $50 in gift cards to popular stores like Amazon, Starbucks, and Whole Foods. My dog’s walk is tomorrow!

Drop Wag promotion: 50,000 Drop points for a dog walk

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PV PLZ: Eating at All the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Restaurants

The best part about staying at an all-inclusive is eating your face off. And I didn’t hold back during my 3-night free stay at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta last week. (I am currently doing a detox and running 4+ miles a day as penance.)

There are 5 restaurants here – and I ate at most of them twice!

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Restaurants

The stunning view from Blaze (this is the only non-food pic in the post btw)

Here’s what you can expect from the food at Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta.

PV PLZ trip report index

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta restaurants

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PV PLZ: Review of My Free Stay at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta

Still reeling about the completely relaxing Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarata. Now that I’m back in Dallas, I can start to process it.

The 3 nights I spent here were completely free. I used 60,000 Hyatt points for a stay that retailed for $1,300+ for the dates I was there.

In fact, the whole trip only cost me $90 out-of-pocket. Here’s how I booked it.

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Review

View of the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta from the beach

Back to the hotel!

PV PLZ trip report index

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Review

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PV PLZ: How I Booked a $2,000+ Mexican Vacation for $90 With Points

A couple of days ago, I returned from a MUCH needed break slash reset in sunny Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Ocean side of Mexico. A friend and I stayed 3 nights Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. She flew down from Chicago. And I flew from Dallas.

I only paid $90 to watch the sunset in Puerto Vallarta for 3 nights

Out-of-pocket, I paid $90 in addition to 60,000 Hyatt points for the room and 15,000 British Airways Avios points for award flights on American. Here’s how I did it!

PV PLZ trip report index

Get me to Mexico!

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Confirmed: FoundersCard Members Can STILL Get 4 Nights in the Bahamas (I Just Booked It!)

Oof. It’s been a rough ride for Caesar’s Total Rewards fans this year. In particular, they slaughtered their Diamond elite tierno more lounge access for starters, unless you have a certain number of tier credits.

total rewards atlantis

I’m coming back for more, Atlantis

One of the best perks about Total Rewards Diamond elite status has been 4 free nights in the Bahamas each year (I took them up on it in December 2016). And that’s changed, too.

I’m Diamond with Total Rewards because of FoundersCard. That perk was renewed through the end of January 2019.

I’m NOT a high roller but still got 4 free nights in the Bahamas

And great news: you can still get 4 nights at the Atlantis Paradise Island (a Marriott Autograph property). I had no trouble booking it over the phone with next to 0 tier credits today.

But now, you have to pay resort fees for the stay, and they’re ~$54 per night. Which is still a great deal. Just not as good a deal as before.

Looks like I’ll be going back to Nassau in May! I’m thinking of staying only 3 nights and spending the last one at the new Grand Hyatt Baha Mar that isn’t even 1 year old yet!

Total Rewards Atlantis Information

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My $100 Haul of Free Mercedes-Benz Gear (The Card With This Perk Is Going Away!)

I’ve been meaning to write about this year’s edition of $100 in free Mercedes-Benz stuff (last year’s haul is here). I still have my glasses and water bottle, but lost the coffee cup to the TSA gods at LaGuardia. :/ (I now use a HydroFlask to transport coffee to the airport.)

I dusted off my certificate and headed to my local Mercedes-Benz dealership.

amex mercedes benz certificate

Thanks for the free jacket, water bottle, and keychain, Amex!

I ended up getting a nice fleece-lined windbreaker worth $89, a water bottle, and a keychain. Total cost: $0!

You get one of these $100 certificates every year with the Amex Platinum Mercedes-Benz card. But, as I just found out from Nick at Frequent Miler, it’s going away in January 2019. If you’ve never had it, get it while you can!

This year’s $100 Amex Mercedes Benz Certificate

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